12 JANUARY 1940, Page 2


THE battles in Finland, which have revealed the magni- ficent leadership and fighting capacities of the Finns, have at the same time exposed weaknesses in every part of the Soviet military service. They have shown that the Russian troops were ill-trained, ill-equipped, poorly led and organised, and that the staff work was wretchedly bad. The last defect became apparent in the battle which has ended in the destruction of the 44th Division in the region of the " waistline." This division was apparently in support behind the 163rd Division, but made no attempt to assist the advanced force till the latter had been destroyed or scattered ; and then, entering the battle too late, was itself annihilated by the active Finns. The latter's overwhelming victory puts an end for the moment to the threat to Finland's weakest point, but new Russian attacks north of Lake Ladoga are developing. Other successes stand to the credit of the defenders further north and to the south, whilst on the Mannerheim Line in the Isthmus their armies remain in their fortified positions ready to deal with any frontal attack that may be made by the armies massing against them. The Russian troops in the north, dependent on a single line of railway which has been several times raided and cut by Finnish ski parties, are in a precarious position. But a railway cannot be made permanently useless unless the attacker is able to establish himself across the line ; and it is not suggested that the Finns at present can do more than raid it.